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Terrorism & Security

Iran nuclear talks: delaying tactic or platform for peace?

A return to the negotiation table could relieve some of the tension that has built up over threats of an Israeli military strike on Iran nuclear targets.

By Staff writer / March 7, 2012

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu listens as President Obama speaks during their meeting, Monday, March, 5, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

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The European Union has accepted Iran’s offer of nuclear talks with the United States, China, Russia, France, Britain, and Germany, potentially providing an outlet for pressure that has built up during recent months’ talk of a military strike on Iran. But while the talks were hailed as a positive step, they raise the stakes, as their failure could lead to a stronger drumbeat of war.

The international community, particularly the US, has struggled to dial down war talk between Iran and Israel.

Yesterday, President Obama struck back at Republican presidential candidates, who have criticized his “diplomacy first” approach to Iran and vowed that they would take a tougher stance against the Islamic Republic if elected. Mr. Obama implied that candidates Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, and Newt Gingrich are playing a dangerous game of brinkmanship by “beating the drums of war.” 

Reuters reports that Israel, which has lately stressed its willingness to launch a strike on Iran to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons, “cautiously” welcomed the resumption of talks. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s national security adviser, Yaakov Amidror, stressed to Israel’s Army Radio that the goal remains for Iran to give up its “military nuclear capability,” not just promise to not pursue the development of nuclear weapons.

Israel is at odds with the P5 + 1 – as the group of the US, China, Russia, France, the UK, and Germany is known –  over what nuclear work of Iran’s is considered acceptable. The Islamic Republic insists that its program is for peaceful purposes – mostly electricity generation, plus some medical work – and the world powers have acknowledged its right to have a civilian nuclear program.

Mr. Netanyahu insists that all of Iran’s uranium enriched beyond 3.5 percent, the level needed for electricity generation, be removed. Iran has some uranium enriched to 20 percent, which it claims is needed to produce medical isotopes. Nuclear weapons require uranium enriched to 90 percent, according to Reuters.  

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